I have a grandma that I never really knew very well. Later in life I reached out to her. After my grandpa, her husband, passed away; it became important to me to know some of these relatives that I’d never known.
I’d heard things about this woman. If people were correct, earlier in life, she was not the nicest person. I went in prepared.
She had a rough life. As I got to know her, her life was even rougher than I had known. She was legally blind. She always had something physically wrong. As a kid, she couldn’t run and play like the other kids; her body wouldn’t let her. She married a drunk. She had five babies and was pregnant with a sixth. While her husband screamed for his breakfast, she walked in one morning to find her youngest baby dead in his crib. She left her husband. She lost the baby she was carrying. Her remaining four boys grew up. Three of them died as adults. The fourth is my dad.
She had remarried decades ago to a very nice man. I remember him, my grandpa. He smiled a lot and liked trains. If people are correct, he loved her very much. They took in foster kids and grew old together. Then he passed away.
That’s when I came to know her. She was dying. She knew it. She was pretty much bedridden. But she didn’t feel sorry for herself. I would come to visit and she would be sewing. She had a giant magnifying glass to see enough to sew. She was making dolls for kids in the hospital. The limbs on the dolls were held on with buttons, kids could remove limbs or turn them around; so the kids could have a doll that looked like themselves.
She checked the stock market and made plans. She enjoyed conversations about life views about things that are right and wrong. The first time I met with her she asked what I felt about people living together outside of wedlock in the first ten minutes.
Before she died, I took her out to breakfast with my mom. Those two had a falling out some time after my parents divorced. They made peace. They smiled and forgave.
The kids and I talked about her today. Her life holds a very big lesson. You can’t control many things that happen in life. But you can always control how you react and what you do. There may be a day in life that I am sickly and confined to my bed all day. But that is not hopeless. So many see that as hopeless. My grandma saw that as time to sew and give hope to children in a hospital.
Tonight I am thankful that my life has been blessed with people who had monumentally big mountains in their life; but never let those mountains stop them from being people with a generous and caring heart. I feel much more myself when I am being a blessing to others, than when I am being blessed by others. Both are great! But the first is who I strive to be.